Album Walkthrough: Louis The Child dissect their debut album, Here For Now
The Chicago duo's debut album is stacked with special guests, from Australians like Wafia and Vera Blue to EARTHGANG and Foster The People.
Header image by Jimmy Fontaine.
When talking about breakthrough international dance acts from the last five years or so, it's hard to go past Chicago-raised duo Louis The Child. When we first met, the pairing - composed of childhood friends and collaborators Freddy Kennett and Robby Hauldren – were only just reading their debut single, released back in 2015 after remixes for the likes of Club Cheval introduced them as an artist-to-watch within the US dance space. At that point of time, they were an act on the cusp of a dance music reinvention, with musicians like the pairing taking the trap-like sensibilities that defined the years earlier and making them more digestible and pop-rooted, forging a new movement that'd give us some of pop's most successful names.
Louis The Child, however, were quick to solidify their place in the scene they were seemingly defining. Their debut single It's Stange - and its 20-odd remixes - proved inescapable, and everything they did following that - such as the Icona Pop-assisted Weekend in 2016 and Evalyn-featuring Fire later that same year - continued to emphasise their knack for crafting earworming electro-pop; their radio-ready pop hooks and colourful melodies growing stronger as their sound steadily became more refined and slick with every release.
In everything Louis The Child put out since then, this intersection of forward-thinking pop and accessible electronica has been at its core, even if the duo have thrived upon experimentation simultaneously. Their 2017 debut EP Love Is Alive was an introductory moment turned runaway success, while their second EP - 2018's Kids At Play - took it a step further, with the duo expanding into international territories as they morphed their wind-swept melodies with guest collaborators such as Australia's own Wafia and UK R&B hot-shot RAYE.
Now, two years later, comes a release that encapsulates the story of Louis The Child and the sounds that defined their glow-up, with the duo's debut album - last Friday's arriving Here For Now - being a record that's as much a nod to the past as it is a look forward into the future. Across the space of 45-odd minutes, the duo prove they aren't messing around. It's a masterclass in what they do best, bringing together some of music's most adventurous and celebrated names and introducing them to their world; their sound morphing and switching up depending on the guest collaborator they feature, without veering too far from the Louis The Child blueprint.
Within the space of just a few songs, for example, they warp between glitchy hip-hop (Big Love feat. EARTHGANG) and spiralling electro-pop (the Vera Blue-assisted Nobody Like You) alike; both songs distinctly Louis The Child, but very different to one another in both sound and tone. Likewise, the album's latter moments comes with three respected heavyweights of the different genres - indie-pop-definers Foster The People; hip-hop rising star DUCKWRTH; electronic duo Bob Moses - and yet they all work; their differences seemingly working off one another, and amplifying the songwriting at its core.
"There are a few messages throughout the album," the duo say on the record, which also features Quin XCII, Chelsea Cutler, K.Flay and Drew Love. "Primarily, it’s about realizing and accepting how short this life is, trying to appreciate the moments we get, and finding the magic in every second because we’re only here for now. We wrote songs about the way we view the world. The way we treat each other matters. We can be a positive light. Let’s not stress the small things. Let’s make our experience the best we can for ourselves and everyone around us."
Louis The Child know their sound, and they know their attraction. As two still-young musicians rising in music's internet age, their music has been both a shoulder to cry on and an opportunity to dance around. Now, their debut album condenses that to its most pure form, and it's quite a journey.
Take a dive into the album below with a track-by-track walkthrough, which sees the duo break down their debut album one song at a time:
Scooter’s Debut (Intro)
The intro to our debut album! We do a lot of comedy bits and voices for fun and this intro came from just messing around on the mic. When we made it we were just having fun coming up with a character, and since then Scooter Boswell has developed much more than we imagined at the time.
Big Love (with EARTHGANG)
This is one of our favourite productions. We knew pretty early into the making of it that this would be the first song on the album. It had this big and explosive intro energy to it. Our A&R, Josh Deane, was on vacation in Rarotonga, found a small church, decided to go inside, and ended up recording a children’s choir on his iPhone. When he got back, he showed it to us and said “you guys should make a beat out of this!” And we thought it was a great sample.
EARTHGANG are one of our favourite artists in the world so getting them on this was a dream come true. We knew that they could bring the energy we wanted out the gate for the album. We FaceTimed Olu and told him he HAD to listen to this beat. They were excited to write to it, and EARTHGANG absolutely nailed the lyrical message we wanted for song #1.
This one came from a writing session we did with Alexander 23. Freddy programmed the drumbeat on the MPC and we were all just groovin'. Throughout the process of writing the album we started to use our voices a lot more, both in background/gang vocals and singing leads. In this song in particular, Freddy is singing lead vocal throughout.
The bridge/solo is one of our favorite parts. When writing with Alexander 23, we recorded him doing some adlib layers and pieced them together to form this distorted vocal solo. All the “ay ay ay ay” and “woop” vocal sounds during this part are meant to make you feel like you’re in a room of people singing together and one person is taking a solo while everyone else reacts and cheers them on (think Kanye Sunday Service). The message and playfulness of this song feels especially important at the beginning of the project.
Little Things (with Quinn XCII & Chelsea Cutler)
This song was originally sent to us by Jon Bellion. We worked on it and then kind of forgot about it for a few months before finally coming back to it. Quinn XCII and Chelsea Cutler are two of our close friends and people we’ve collaborated with in the past, and they felt like the perfect duo to sing this song. This song feels like a very authentic representation of what we see as our classic synth sound.
We All Have Dreams (with K.Flay)
After making It’s Strange with K.Flay we knew we had great writing chemistry. We had started writing the chorus before K.Flay showed up to the studio, and once she arrived, we wrote the rest of the song pretty quickly. She played us some music that she had been listening to and one of the songs had this running bassline in it so we ran (pun intended) with that idea for the bass. K.Flay always gets super raw in her songwriting and this song feels no different.
We love bringing people together through music, and this song does that perfectly through highlighting the deep feelings that each of us feel. On our last EP (Kids at Play) we used a children’s choir on our song LOVE feat. Elohim, and we felt that this was the perfect song to have a children’s choir sing again. The choir singing in the bridge and final chorus added a beautiful new weight to the words.
Nobody Like You (with Vera Blue)
This one started from a beat called “indie cool ting” that had been sitting on our computers for a while. The production reminded us of a lot of the synth-pop coming out in the early 2010s from artists like CHVRCHES, Passion Pit, and The Naked & Famous. We wrote the song and then hit up Vera Blue to see if she would sing it and she absolutely crushed it. She added all these beautiful harmonies to the bridge that really elevate the whole song. The song is about our perspective that every living being is unique and beautiful.
This started off as an idea called Time (Mind) that Freddy made. It had such a warm and fun feeling to it, even in its minute-long demo form. We got in the studio with Lauv and Michael Pollack one day and wrote the lyrics to it. The song is meant to feel very stress free, and encouraging to the listener. This is the first song where both of us are singing lead vocals together, with Freddy taking the first verse, Robby the second verse, and both of us singing the chorus together. It’s got some of our favourite bass lines we’ve ever written.
Every Color (with Foster The People)
This started as a hook and production we made at Freddy’s house one night. A couple months later, we got in the studio with Mark Foster and showed him a bunch of ideas we had and he gravitated towards Every Color. Mark has a ton of audio gear at his house so we spent
the whole day just messing around with all the different synths and toys he had, recording anything that sounded cool. After that day we went on a spree of buying new synths and other music gear, much of which found their way onto other songs on the album.
We’ve been huge Foster The People fans for a while so the fact that we have a song together is really crazy to us. This song has a similar message to nobody like you, but it’s written in a more visual, metaphoric style.
Get Together (with Duckwrth)
This was the quickest song we made on the album. We usually add elements or mess around with arrangement after the first day of making a song but what you hear in this is all from that one day. This song is definitely a look into our jazz influence and appreciation, and probably a style people aren’t expecting from us on this album (which we love). Duckwrth was vibing with the jazz chords and melodies we were playing, and partway into writing, Duck suggested we add some trumpet so we called up our friend Ariel. He came and laid a bunch of horn lines, including that badass solo at the end. We had so much fun working with Duckwrth that we ended up bringing him on our tour last fall.
What A World (with Bob Moses)
We first met Bob Moses on Holy Ship and told them we were writing an album and what the album was about. We had been listening to their album Battle Lines a lot at the time and were excited to connect with them. We got in the studio a little while later and made What A
World. It has this very big anthemic feeling, like you’re on top of the world. It also feels a little existential in its mood. We were trying to capture the strange feeling of being born into such a complex world.
La La La (Everything’s Ok)
This is the first song with Robby singing the lead throughout. It started with the arpeggio you hear in the intro. Something about the arp got him thinking of his family, and the lyric came from imagining what he would say to help comfort his mother when she grows old someday. It wasn’t until he added a soundbite from a home video of him at age two that the meaning of the lyric changed, becoming words of comfort for his little brother. It’s a song for anyone who needs to be reminded that in the end, everything will be ok.
Free (with Drew Love)
This song probably took the most work out of any song on the project. We’re very picky when people send us songs, but occasionally one comes around that we instantly connect with. We knew from the moment we heard Drew sing “at least you’re freeeeeee” that this was
We produced out a version and debuted it at our Red Rocks show last year, but when it dropped, we felt like we could remake it and raise the energy a bit higher, maybe do something crazier. It took us a few re-flips to get it just right, because we wanted the drop to match the energy and heavy emotion of Drew’s vocal. We tweaked and tweaked like mad scientists, and we love how it came out!
We Are Here For Now
We started this one on the bus during our Dear Sense Tour in 2018. Robby had been working on a beat in the back of the bus and Freddy came in and started singing the “we are here for now” lyric over it. That lyric was the seed that this whole project grew out of. The production was originally completely different. It was much more loungey/ vibey and had a 4 on the floor beat. Once we were back at home and in the studio, we took the vocal idea and reproduced it. We had a lot of fun going deep into the automation of the lead arpeggiator in the drop. Definitely one of our favourite drops we’ve made.
We performed WAHFN on our most recent tour, and Freddy was performing the piano parts. Once we got home from that tour, we played the final piano recording for the song, and we wrapped it up!
This is a song that we had been playing an early version of on tour since 2018. We didn’t have plans to turn it into a full song, but it proved to be a really amazing moment in our shows, and pretty soon people were sending us videos asking about it. The vocal chop comes from an unreleased song we made with Oh Wonder, and the voicemail at the end of the song is an actual voicemail from Freddy’s mom to him.
Fade Away felt like the perfect song to finish the project, to represent how at the end of our time here on earth, we all fade away.
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